Professor Buzzkill History Podcast | History Myths and Misconceptions Buzzkilled!2020-06-30T08:15:46-04:00

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History Myths Buzzkilled

Irish Symbols and Hidden Hibernians

Ever wonder how the shamrock, the Celtic Cross, and the Claddagh Ring became symbols of Irish culture? And which Irish people deserve more historical attention and shouldn't remain "Hidden Hibernians"? Professor Edward O'Donnell explains all in this St. Patrick's Day episode! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Edward T. O’Donnell, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish-American History

Levi and Catherine Coffin: the Underground Railroad

In 1876, an elderly man decided to write his memoirs. As we’ll see during this show, he and his wife were very important in 19th century America. They helped a great many people achieve freedom, but very few people have heard of them. As he was writing his autobiography, this old man wanted to stress the centrality and strength of one of his earliest experiences, and the impact it had on how he chose to live his life. You see, Levi Coffin became an opponent of slavery and an abolitionist at the age of seven when he saw a slave working on a chain gang. Young Levi asked him why he was being held in chains. The slave replied that the chains were there to [...]

Roy Cohn: Piece of Sh*t Saturday

Our inaugural POS Saturday episode is dedicated to the one of the biggest pieces of s**t in 20th century American history -- Roy Cohen. Cohen’s influence on American politics and society from the 1950s to the 1980s was almost completely negative. Along with a handful of others, he is responsible for the toxic tone and behavior that has polluted recent American politics. Professor Philip Nash from Penn State explains why Roy Cohen’s our first Buzzkill POS!

George Patton Conquers the World!

We hear this all the time in the US: “George Patton should have been unleashed and taken care of the Soviets in 1945 when we had the chance.” And from the movie, Patton: “We're gonna have to fight them sooner or later anyway. Why not do it now, when we got the army here to do it with?” If we had let Patton have his way, the Soviet Union would have been eliminated, there would have been no Cold War, and no threat of a nuclear WWIII. True? Professor Nash from Penn State explains all! One of our best episodes ever! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Ladislas Farago, The Last Days of Patton “It would be as hard to give up all thought [of being a soldier] [...]

Ben Franklin, “A Republic, if You Can Keep It.” Quote or No Quote?

These are heady times for historians in the United States. The Trump impeachment saga has made Lady Buzzkill and I even more highly desired guests at dinners around town than we usually are. People in our social set have lots of questions about the history of impeachment, and all the historic references dropped by politicians talking about impeachment on television. Naturally, I get asked about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868, the near-impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974, and Clinton’s impeachment in 1999. Given what a buzzkill I am about “quotes” from historical figures, however, most of these questions are about whether so-and-so really said this-or-that. And I got one of these questions at a soirée last month. When announcing [...]

Republicans and Impeachment: Nixon and Now

A Republican Senator is in his office, thinking about material he’s just seen regarding the sitting President from his own party. He’s troubled, because the evidence indicates a clear violation of US law and an abuse of Presidential power. The problem is that the rest of the Senator’s party is staunchly behind the President, is dismissive of the charges against him, and is lambasting the Democrats as partisan hacks on a witch-hunt. This Republican Senator fears that he will be ostracised by his party if he comes out in favor of impeaching the President, yet he is more troubled by whether he’ll be able to face the judgment of future generations if he doesn’t hold the President accountable for his behavior. Naturally, Buzzkillers, you think [...]

Martin Luther King: Arc of the Moral Universe Bends Toward Justice

All too often, researching the origins of well-known quotes leads to a kind of dead end. Famous people are credited with expressions and sayings that were in common use during their time, and those quotes are only attached to, for instance, Churchill or Gandhi, by later generations of admirers. Half the time, the humorous ones have their origins old vaudeville or music hall gags. And many of the serious quotes we investigate here at the Institute can’t be traced to one individual genius author. They seem to fall under the category of “old saying” or “well-known aphorism.” That doesn’t mean these quotes, and the sentiments behind them, aren’t very important. They usually are very important, and we all know folks who use quotes and [...]

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Milton C. Sernett, Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History

Sernett compares the larger-than-life symbolic Tubman with the actual “historical” Tubman. He does so not to diminish Tubman’s achievements but rather to explore the interplay of history and myth in our national consciousness. Analyzing how the Tubman icon has changed over time, Sernett shows that the various constructions of the [...]

Ryan Swanson, The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete

In full and intricate detail, featuring an amazing cast of characters from the worlds of politics, athletics, entertainment and more, this is the story of how President Theodore Roosevelt helped shepherd in an American sports and fitness revolution.

David Cohen, Churchill and Attlee: The Unlikely Allies Who Won the War

In 1940, Clement Attlee took Labour into the wartime coalition government and serving under Churchill, becoming Britain’s first Deputy Prime Minister. Churchill concentrated on the war effort, while Attlee was left in charge of domestic affairs, effectively ensuring the smooth running of the country. Their relationship proved pivotal to the [...]

Susan Ware, Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

Looking beyond the national leadership of the suffrage movement, an acclaimed historian gives voice to the thousands of women from different backgrounds, races, and religions whose local passion and protest resounded throughout the land.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

One of the most talked-about climate change books of recent years, for reasons easy to understand: it tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific [...]

James Rodger Fleming, Historical Perspectives on Climate Change

Provides a thorough examination of the historical roots of global climate change as a field of inquiry, from the Enlightenment to the late twentieth century. Based on primary and archival sources, the book is filled with interesting perspectives on what people have understood, experienced, and feared about the climate and [...]

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War - Halik Kochanski Rescuing the stories of those who died and those who vanished, those who fought and those who escaped, Kochanski deftly reconstructs the world of wartime Poland in all its complexity-from collaboration to resistance, from expulsion [...]


American History, British History, and World History Myths Busted by Professor Buzzkill
Don’t forget to check-in every week for new history myths being busted.

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